“ON INTERNATIONAL GIRLS IN ICT DAY #GIRLSINICT, I CHOOSE TO JOIN #MINDTHESTEMGAP, A MANIFESTO THAT PROMOTES AN INCLUSIVE CULTURE, FOR NOW AND FOR THE FUTURE, IN STEM FIELDS” – MASSIMILIANO CIPOLLETTA
The MIND THE STEM GAP Manifesto is a participatory project of the Bracco Foundation, set up in 2021 to counter gender stereotypes, give visibility to the expertise of female experts in fields still perceived as masculine and support inclusive educational experiences.
I decided to sign the Manifesto because I consider it essential to contribute to the evolution of networks in which the exchange of expertise and dialogue between stakeholders enriches an ecosystem in which the whole of civil society unites around a common goal.
These are thoughts that have already emerged at the working tables of B20 Italy – the most authoritative of the Engagement Groups within the G20, the international forum that brings together the world’s leading economies – in which I participated as a delegate in the Digital Transformation task force. Thoughts that should not be exhausted in slogans and rhetoric, but translated into concrete actions, strategies and changes not only in business but also in culture.
This is why I have chosen to symbolically share this endorsement today, on the International Girls in ICT Day, established by the United Nations to:
- encourage girls and women to pursue STEM paths in their studies;
- inspire and incentivise them in STEM careers;
- promote healthy and collaborative environments that overcome the gender gap and promote inclusion and diversity.
Access & safety
Access and safety: these are the themes of the 2022 edition ofInternational Girls in ICT Day.
Access both as an opportunity to overcome disadvantaged conditions (widespread ultra-broadband coverage) and as a chance to strengthen the perception of one’s potential in training and career paths.
Safetyas a safe space – a constructive and inclusive environment in which uniqueness and plurality are key drivers to contribute to research, innovation and development; but also as (cyber) security – a topic to which increasing attention is being paid.
This is an area that feeds on increasingly specialised skills at all levels and still sees a small percentage of women in C-Level positions, although the education data are encouraging as they see a growth in the interest of female graduates in cybersecurity-related topics.
At the international level, a virtuous climate is fortifying itself, fostering initiatives such as mentorship programmes (such as ITU Women in Cyber mentorship, dedicated to inspiring girls and women, through role models, to recognise in themselves the awareness and talent necessary for a career in the tech and STEM world).
Moments aimed at enhancing digital skills as key competences to contribute to a positive impact on business and society as a whole.
The gender gap theme in the NRRP
The National Recovery and Resilience Plan also envisages the creation of spaces for discussion on the gender gap issue: one example is the creation of the association Donne 4.0, which manages theNRRP Observatory, with the aim of constantly monitoring the attention paid to the gender gap issue in the digital transition.
The KPIs for monitoring the positive impact of the NRRP on women’s employment in the digital sphere include:
– the active role in innovative technologies (35% women in the creation and development teams, involved in the creation of new technologies and platforms in Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Cybersecurity, Robotics and Internet of Things);
– school-to-work channels and mentorship paths for young STEM women, involving private and public enterprises;
– targeted training and recruitment programmes in tech companies (Women and tech jobs – 30% female hires in the ICT sector) that also value humanistic skills alongside technical ones;
– Mandatory gender certification and ad hoc funds and tax relief: the National Strategy for Gender Equality provides for subsidised credit to support women’s enterprises and a national gender equality certification system for companies.
ICT for women
In Italy, the gender gap between graduates and female graduates in STEM disciplines still exists (36.8 per cent among men and 17.0 per cent among women, according to the Excelsior Information System report by Unioncamere and Anpal). There is also a gap in the female employment rate (at 44.5%), although there are encouraging signs that this will improve.
Women are increasingly involved in the creation of innovative start-ups that see new technologies as the driving force behind sustainable projects linked to the circular economy, and the business world is aware of this: this was discussed, for example, during the recent round table dedicated to Women in ICT by Anitec-Assinform, held on 30 January in Milan, with the aim of raising awareness among schools, families, young people, institutions and businesses on the need to train more women IT experts and promote concrete measures to attract girls to undertake studies and a professional career in this field, thus closing the gender gap within society.
The female algorithm: ideas and actions
The MIND THE STEM GAP Manifesto does not end with the enunciation of a set of principles, but stands as an interactive project that continues over time and offers companies ideas and inspiration to improve their corporate culture through synergy with the academic/training world and civil society. The need for digital talent and skills is felt in every supply chain, even more so in the ICT market.
What concrete actions can be put in place?
- Integrating ICT in basic education
- Supporting meaningful and tangible experiences (workshops, laboratories, collaborative learning)
- Choosing inclusive practices and languages
- Acting onfamily upbringing and fostering sensitivitytowards careers accessible to all
- Adapting to internationally recognised standards and good practices , always adapting them to one’s own specific business reality.
Plurality and diversity, women’s participation in STEM fields and strategic contexts: countering prejudice means reducing the socio-cultural distortions that end up being reflected in digital products and solutions, but also generating value for a future in which the digital curvature can make a difference in terms of competitiveness and participation.